Climate change is already adversely affecting Iowans. Changing weather patterns, catastrophic rain events, heightened crop failure potential, floods, droughts and failing infrastructure are all critical issues that must be addressed by the Iowa Legislature. Cities and counties are left with huge financial burdens in the aftermath of natural disasters.
Year after year, Iowa climate scientists faithfully send their recommendations to the Governor and the Legislature. Since 2010 when the Branstad/Reynolds administration took charge, the report has been promptly filed away without even so much as a acknowledgement of the problem.
Despite the efforts of Senators Rob Hogg and Joe Bolkcom and others in the “climate caucus,” no meaningful legislation has passed because Republicans have no interest in investing in solving the problem, or planning for the future. It is our state’s largest unsolved and ignored problem. It does not help that EPA Director Scott Pruitt is trying to reverse every rule ever put in place to mitigate the effects of climate change.
The United States military has identified climate change as the biggest global security threat because of its potential to force mass migrations, cause water shortages and spark military conflicts over scarce natural resources. The Iowa National Guard recognizes the threat and is mobilizing to implement the national safety and security recommendations.
We have reached a critical juncture that will compromise the quality of life for future generations if we don’t act. We must embrace green initiatives and renewable energy with urgency.
I support full funding of Iowa’s climate research programs and giving our scientists the resources they need to keep up on the latest innovations that can help Iowa’s businesses and farmers implement clean energy. We must continue to move away from fossil fuels and towards a 100% renewable energy future. This will create thousands of new, good paying jobs – while lowering carbon emissions and creating less pollution.
We must restore funding to the Leopold Center at Iowa State University. Climate change action and sustainable farming practices go hand-in-hand. This legislative session, State Representative Beth Wessels-Kroeschell, D-Ames, introduced a bill to restore funding, a measure that I would fully support in the Senate if elected.
In 2015, as a member of the West Des Moines board of adjustment, I noticed that more residents were asking for zoning variations because they were installing solar panels on their homes. I asked to review the West Des Moines solar ordinance, only to discover there wasn’t one. After meeting with City staff, they decided to research the issue and write their first city solar ordinance.
As a State Senator, I will introduce legislation to encourage the further development of the renewable energy industry in Iowa. I will also include a provision that requires all new state buildings be fitted with geothermal HVAC systems and solar panels. Iowa’s government should be leading the way on climate initiatives and reward progress toward those goals.